Who is a teacher?


 
Dr Ajit Patil | Management Professional
Dr Ajit Patil is a Professor of Marketing & Retailing. He is a management professor in Mumbai, India. He also pursues other careers as a Management Writer, Corporate Trainer, and Business Development Consultant.

 

 


I have seen that some teachers are not clear about their role. It is important to know ‘who a teacher is’ and what he or she stands for. What is the role of a teacher? Having taught management students for nearly 20 years, I have developed some understanding of the role of a teacher. "A teacher is an inquisitive learner who develops a passion for some subject and starts acquiring domain knowledge which then transcends the public domain. Brimming with knowledge, teachers develop eagerness to share this acquired knowledge wrapped in their wisdom with those who are eager to acquire it, but with lesser time and effort." An inquisitive learner and a good teacher is a good student. Initially, teachers’ focus is on learning things for themselves. The learning is unstructured and exploratory in nature. As time passes, they become organised and the learning process gets structured.
Scholarship develops an eye for details and a holistic attitude in teachers. They realise the importance of looking at things in totality and understand the incremental value added by every minute detail.
They lose tolerance for lack of details. Some students start looking at them as 'tough teachers', but in reality, they become teachers committed to excellence. Expanding horizons, great teachers also get connected to the academic and professional community which is devoted to the domain area. Sharing out-grows the classroom. The teachers become writers and speakers. As the visibility improves, their network expands. Great teachers make their network available to their students. Great teachers have a great sense of piggybacking. They know very well the stages of the career when they need to piggyback their students. They understand the areas which need piggybacking. Good teachers focus on one subject rather than trying to be jack of everything. Such focus gives them their identity. Most of the good teachers have a mono-focus. For them, depth is more important than the span. They choose their domain area and stick to it for life. Some of the teachers go on sharpening their focus with time, rather than diluting it. Power comes to them by deep diving into the sea of knowledge. I realised that a teacher goes through different phases during the teaching journey. In the early stages of the career, they dispense knowledge, the focus is on sharing knowledge. Their need to share knowledge drives the teaching style. As they progress to the next level, they identify the important life skills required to be developed by students. Skill development of students becomes the agenda of the teacher. Skills are required to be practised for perfection and students need longer support from teachers. The longevity of association brings familiarity and development of a bond between a teacher and a student. As teachers grow in their career, they develop a teaching philosophy. They focus more on developing right attitudes, perspectives and thoughts for their students. As they mature academically, they realise the importance of developing the right attitude. The realisation comes from their own life experiences and through the experiences with their students.
They get to know what worked for their students and what didn't. They also see the results of their efforts. They realise that those students who had right attitude and perspective make it big in their lives. The emotional bond between teachers and students bring out the best in both. The process of knowledge transfer, skill development and attitude building develops emotional bonding between them. A good teacher understands the learning pattern of students and develops teaching styles accordingly. Their teaching tools and techniques are radically different than others. Their students love the unique style. Good teachers lighten the academic burden but  the minds of students. Smart teachers identify the learning motives of their students. They do not grossly generalise those motives, but develop teaching methods to accommodate most of them. Today, students want to know the application of the subject in solving problems and developing life skills. The challenge for teachers is to identify such areas in the curriculum, highlight it and enhance it with teaching style, tools and techniques. Entertainment enhances interest and increases the span of attention. The major challenge for teachers today is maintaining students' interest and increasing the span of attention. My experience is that the passion of the teacher in the subject, depth of knowledge and holistic approach, combined with an entertaining teaching style should deliver the results. If students like the teacher, then they like the subject too. I have understood that students are looking for three things- ­ltered domain knowledge which is concentrated and useful in work-life, highly knowledgeable but approachable, friendly teacher who can be consulted for their dif­culties and problems, and entertaining delivery style which keeps them engaged in an hour-long discussion. In a nutshell, students expect teachers with a research mind, friendly and approachable personality, entertaining delivery style, excellent classroom management skills, focus on application and guidance for examination.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of August, 2018.